DIY Wedding Venues 101: Beautiful “I Dos” On A Budget

DIY Wedding Venues 101

Hey there, soon-to-be-wed friends! First of all, congratulations on your upcoming “I Dos.” This is such an exciting time for you, and I’m so happy you have included The Savvy Swarey in planning for your big day. If you’re here, chances are you’ve had the budget conversation already and know that exploring some alternative, more budget-friendly options, such as DIY wedding venues,  is the way to go. 

I’ve been there before and I am here to help. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of alternative wedding venues.  We’ll cover what they are, the pros and cons, why you should or should not choose an DIY wedding venue, types of non-traditional event spaces you might consider, and must-read details on decor and logistics. So, let’s get started shall we?

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What is a DIY Wedding Venue?

Let’s start at the very beginning: What exactly is a DIY wedding venue? Unlike traditional venues with predefined setups and styles, in-house staff, and typically in-house catering, a DIY wedding venue is a blank canvas. It’s an unconventional space that allows you to build your wedding from the ground up. Think of your family’s backyard, a charming barn, a lush garden, or even a unique urban loft.

DIY Wedding Venues Backyard reception

In the case of a DIY wedding venue, there is usually a single site fee for the use of the property for a set period of time, and that’s it. After that, it’s up to you to bring in everything else including catering, rentals, decor and in some cases, furnishings.  

Why would anyone choose to do it all yourself, you might ask? Are they much cheaper than a traditional wedding venue? Well, these are both great questions that we’ll get into next.

Are DIY Wedding Venues Cheaper?

The short answer? In most cases, yes. Choosing a non-traditional event space for your wedding can be a game-changer for your budget. Let’s compare and contrast the major differences between a traditional full-service wedding venue and a DIY wedding venue.

Full-Service Wedding Venue Costs

In a full-service wedding venue, you’re usually purchasing a package. This package typically includes the venue rental, event coordination, and in-house catering options. The venue comes fully furnished, and they have on-site staff available to assist with setup, cleanup, and other aspects of the event.

So, what do they cost?
In an internal study of nearly 12,000 couples conducted by the Knot in 2022, the average cost of a wedding venue was $11,200. While this choice offers convenience and professional support, the trade off is the hit to your budget.

DIY Wedding Venue Costs

In contrast, DIY venues charge either a flat fee for use of the space for an entire day, or an hourly rate. In some cases, they are free! These rental fees can range fairly widely depending on your location, the type of space, and the amenities included. In most cases, you’re getting the space itself, and not much else for that fee.

So, what do they cost?
According to Peerspace, a company solely focused on rentable event spaces throughout the world, space rental costs can typically start at about $100 per hour, or $1,200 for a full 12 hour day.

Now, clearly, this is not comparing apples to apples; however, ultimately, DIY wedding venues leave you with more financial flexibility. Because you’re paying less out of pocket for the venue itself and have more flexibility to price shop for your catering, you’ll have room in your budget for your favorite local band, personalized touches, or that dream honeymoon you’ve been thinking about since you said yes.

OK, but outside of cost, are there other reasons you’d choose a more non-traditional DIY wedding venue? Yes, let’s talk about that next.

Why Choose a Non-Traditional DIY Wedding Venue?

What’s the allure of going with a non-traditional wedding venue? Aside from the upfront budget savings,  the choice to go with a more non-traditional wedding venue boils down to customization and character. 

Traditional Wedding Venues

Traditional full-service wedding venues are much more rigid in their offering, as they have specific packages they’ll offer to their couples. Included in those packages are predetermined reception and ceremony spaces and catering options.

You can customize these packages, within reason, but there isn’t a ton of wiggle room to make adjustments. So, you are much more limited in how creative you can get with your aesthetic and overall experience.

Non-Traditional Wedding Venues

In contrast, non-traditional wedding venues are more of a blank slate. You’re getting access to the raw space, maybe some light furnishings and basic ammenities, but that’s about it.

The upside to this is you have creative freedom to personalize every aspect of your wedding. The look and feel, the vendors, can all be customized to fit your vision. Moreover, these locations often possess a unique charm that can’t be replicated.

Ultimately, a traditional wedding venue might be for you if you’re happy with everything that comes with that venue. That’s totally fine. For those of you that go that route, I highly recommend checking out my budget tips for booking an affordable wedding venue.

For those looking to save significantly, or want more flexibility to pick your own vendors, and create your own aesthetic, a non-traditional venue may be the way to go. On that note, let’s talk about some alternative wedding venues you might consider.

DIY Wedding Venue Planning Checklist

10 Cheap DIY Wedding Venues To Consider

There are so many incredible alternative wedding venue options for the couple that’s not into traditional vibes; however, let’s focus here on highly affordable options. I’ve rounded up 10 DIY wedding venue options that won’t break the bank.

# 1 | Your Backyard

Yes. I kid you not. Especially if you’re after a more personal, intimate celebration. What better place to celebrate with your closest peeps than at the home you and your partner created together. DIY backyard weddings are both beautiful and budget savvy. And, if your backyard isn’t spacious enough, perhaps there is a close friend or family willing to host. It can’t hurt to ask.

DIY backyard wedding venue

#2 | Industrial Warehouse

If you’re into a more industrial-chic wedding aesthetic, warehouses are a great option for larger events that need plenty of space for food, tables, and dancing. Check out Peerspace for industrial rental event spaces around the world.

Industrial warehouse DIY wedding venue

#3 | Rustic Barn

There are many barns turned into traditional wedding venues, so you’ll have to get a bit crafty on this one. When I say barns as a DIY wedding venue option, I’m talking about a friend or family member who literally has a barn on their property that you can convert into your own wedding reception space. Or, look for rental-only barn spaces in your area.

rustic barn wedding venue

#4 | Rooftop

Similar to the warehouse option, a rooftop wedding is perfect for the couple looking for a more industrial-chic vibe. The difference? The VIEWS. Rooftops provide you with a unique perspective most of your guests probably haven’t had before of your town or city.

rooftop for wedding reception

#5 | Park Setting

If you live somewhere scenic, and are a sucker for the outdoors, a park is an ideal place to host your family and friends. Why? They are incredibly low budget, even if you end up renting a lodge for the reception, as they require very light decor since they are already set in a beautiful park setting.

park wedding

#6 | Community Center or Pavilion

If you’re a savvy DIY decorator, a community center could be a great no-frills space you can transform and make your own. Much like a park lodge, the rental cost is low and in many cases offers ample space to accommodate a bigger guest list… whereas lodges are more ideal for a small-to-midsize reception.

park pavillion or community center for wedding reception

#7 | Beach Front

Perhaps you are close to a beautiful beach? You’ll want to look into any restrictions, in case it isn’t a public property, or permits are required for use, but this can be such a beautiful serene setting for an intimate wedding ceremony and waterfront reception. I highly recommend booking a local pavilion or lodge for the reception.

Beach wedding

#8 | School Auditorium or Gymnasium

Did you and your partner meet in college? Are you high school sweethearts? Then you might consider reaching out to the place where it all started to see if they’d be open to renting out their space for your nuptials. How cool would that be to bring everyone back to where your love story all began?

#9 | Concert Hall

If you live near a city center, chances are you’re surround by private concert halls. These spaces make fantastic non-traditional wedding venues for large guest lists. They’ve already got the space for a stage, dance floor and plenty of room for both your ceremony and reception tables.

#10 | Campgrounds

For outdoorsy couples, a campground wedding can be a fantastic option. Embrace the beauty of nature and enjoy a weekend of celebration with your closest friends and family. This can be a fun low-cost destination wedding option.

All this being said, DIY wedding venues aren’t for everyone, as with the potential cost savings and flexibility comes more responsibility. Not to fear though, we’ll cover logistics next!

Logistics Tips for DIY Wedding Venues

Now, let’s shift gears to the practical side of DIY wedding venues. While they offer endless possibilities, they also come with some logistical challenges.

Here are the biggies to be mindful of in going this route:

Vendor & Timeline Coordination

With a DIY wedding venue, you are in charge of the event coordination yourself, unless you decide to hire a wedding planner. This means, ensuring every detail is planned and executed to your liking, including selecting and managing all of your vendors, creating and distributing your wedding  day timelines, and ensuring you’ve enlisted a team for set-up and clean-up of your event venue.

Event Design & Decorations

Just like coordinating, this is a task you’ll have to take on yourself, unless you hire this out. From designing the overall space plan (literally how your tables, chairs, bar, etc. will be laid out in the space), to all of the little decor details. While this can be such a fun experience, and a way to truly make your event your own, this can be stressful as well, so consider if this is something you absolutely want to take on yourself.  

Permits, Regulations, and Logistics

Most DIY wedding venues require you to navigate permits and adhere to local regulations. Ignoring these aspects could turn your dream day into a nightmare. To ensure you’ve got this squared away, contact your local city or county authorities to find out what permits and licenses you’ll need for your wedding day and also what noise ordinances, parking restrictions and event curfews are in place.

How Do I Select the Perfect DIY Wedding Venue for My Budget?

Selecting the right DIY wedding venue that aligns with your budget involves careful planning and consideration. Begin by setting a realistic budget that encompasses not only the venue rental but also other essential elements like decor, catering, and entertainment. Once you have your financial parameters in place, you can start the search.

Here are some actionable tips for your hunt.

  • Create a detailed budget spreadsheet that itemizes all expenses related to your DIY wedding, making sure to account for hidden costs like permits and insurance.
  • Research venues in your desired location and compare rental fees, available amenities, and any restrictions or requirements.
  • Don’t forget to negotiate! Some DIY venues may be open to flexible pricing, especially if you’re booking during the offseason or on a weekday.

A DIY wedding venue can be your ticket to a unique and budget-friendly celebration. It’s a chance to create a wedding that’s authentically you, from the choice of location to the tiniest decor details. However, to make it all happen seamlessly, meticulous planning, creative vision, and attention to logistics are paramount. Armed with these actionable tips, your DIY wedding will be a day to remember – your way! 

xo,

The Savvy Swaréy

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